In 1984, the late Burns (d. 1990) published Cold Sassy Tree--a spirited, southern small-town rural tale with robust characters and a regional period (1906) diction that was as tangy and real as grits. Now comes this partial sequel--which continues the story of Will Tweedy and the courting of his future wife--that Burns, with extraordinary courage, worked on through her final illness. Burns's editor, Katrina Kenison, who was left with notes and letters by the author to indicate plotlines beyond the 15 finished chapters here, has contributed a tribute and personal reminiscence. The previous novel concerned the adventures of narrator Will Tweedy, then 14, of Cold Sassy Tree, Georgia, who among others wondered at the shocking marriage of newly widowed Grandpa Blakeslee and the stylish Miss Love. Now, in 1917, Grandpa is gone, and boarding with Miss Love is that ``pure-T beauty,'' new schoolteacher Sanna Maria Klein, who's infatuated with a Harvard boy--until her disastrous visit to his fancy home when bath water floods a festive board. Will's courting moves on--even through a Thanksgiving when Sanna's usually genial foster-father, snookered on moonshine, saws a half moon out of the dining-room table to accommodate his massive stomach--but there are seeds of trouble even before the wedding: Will, a county agent for the state's Department of Agriculture, speaks of farming's gamble as ``excitin','' Sanna says, ``I hate excitement...just another word for worry.'' Meanwhile, most of the Cold Sassy Tree cast is here again: abrasive Aunt Loma, who can whistle ``Whispering Hope'' so thrillingly at church but who has crazy marriage plans, as well as a mean deal for her son; Will's parents, yoked but apart; and townsfolk who have the stubborn endurance of hardscrabble lives beyond their salty talk. For fans of Cold Sassy Tree, an essential; for newcomers, a spur to read the earlier novel. Kenison's tribute to Burns, a gentle, gallant woman, comprises half of the book. (Eight-page photo insert)

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 1992
ISBN: 0-89919-908-9
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1992


NonfictionMAGICAL JOURNEY by Katrina  Kenison
by Katrina Kenison
NonfictionTHE GIFT OF AN ORDINARY DAY by Katrina  Kenison
by Katrina Kenison